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The latest football news from Spain covering La Liga, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, Atlético Madrid, Malaga etc.

Malaga hires former Madrid coach Pellegrini
05 November 2010

MALAGA, Spain (AP) — Struggling Spanish club Malaga hired former Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini on Thursday to lead it to 2013.

The Chilean coach, who oversaw Villarreal through its greatest successes during a five-season stint, will hope to reverse the Andalucian club's poor start to the season. Malaga is 18th after nine games.

Malaga fired Jesualdo Ferreira on Monday after the team's winless streak was stretched to six games overall.

"I think I'm capable of turning this situation around," Pellegrini said. "But of course the team can improve."

B team coach Rafa Gil will lead the team for Saturday's match against Espanyol before Pellegrini takes charge for next week's Copa del Rey match against Hercules.

 

Pellegrini was fired by Madrid after failing to win any silverware last season despite the Spanish giant investing more than 250 million ($351 million) on the likes of stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka.

Source: USA Today

Pellegrini led Villarreal to the 2006 Champions League semifinals and to a club-best second-place finish in 2008.



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Cristiano Ronaldo scores four in Real Madrid victory
24 October 2010

Cristiano Ronaldo stole the show with a four-goal haul as Real Madrid walloped Racing Santander 6-1 at home to restore their one-point La Liga lead.

The winger struck twice in each half, with his fourth goal coming from a 55th-minute penalty, with Gonzalo Higuain and Mesut Ozil also netting.

"I am really happy because I have never scored four goals," said Ronaldo.

Earlier, a Lionel Messi brace helped Barcelona beat Real Zaragoza 2-0 as they temporarily assumed top spot.

Messi's double, however, was eclipsed at the Bernabeu at the end of a week when Manchester United's Wayne Rooney had been linked with a January transfer window reunion with Portuguese winger Ronaldo.

Rooney, of course, ultimately signed a new five-year contract but there is little doubt that Ronaldo is finally returning to the form that earned him the Fifa World Player of the Year award when playing alongside the England striker at Old Trafford in 2008.

Saturday's goals take Ronaldo's season tally to nine in the league, and 10 in all competitions after he scored in the 2-0 Champions League defeat of AC Milan on Tuesday.

Real's resounding victory, which follows 6-1 and 4-1 wins over Deportivo La Coruna and Malaga, means Jose Mourinho's side remain unbeaten in the league and have garnered a maximum 12 points from four home matches.

"Some of my team-mates were better than me but like the coach [Mourinho] says there is no reason to be euphoric," added Ronaldo, who has scored eight goals in his last three games.

"There is a long way to go in the league although being top is important."

After putting the home side in front in the 10th minute, Argentine striker Higuain turned provider five minutes later, crossing low as Ronaldo made no mistake with a simple tap-in.

Despite appearing to be offside, Ronaldo struck from close-range in the 26th minute, and he hit his hat-trick two minutes after the restart after latching on to an Angel Di Maria pass.

And when Argentine midfielder Di Maria was adjudged to have been fouled in the area in the 55th minute, Ronaldo obliged by despatching the spot-kick for his fourth.

German international Ozil completed the Real's scoring before Papakouli Diop netted a deflected consolation for the hapless visitors, who are down to 16th in the table.

Source: BBC Sport



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Could Rooney play in Spain?
20 October 2010

Could Wayne Rooney play in Spain? That is something the player and his agent will be weighing up at the moment.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Rooney have fallen out - and there's only one winner when a player crosses the Scot. Ferguson has been appalled at his behaviour off the pitch, baffled by his continued lack of form on it.

He's told people at Manchester United that Rooney can be sold. Rooney has brought a lot of the grief on himself, but most fans couldn't care less if he wants to indulge in Bakewell, apple or Bolton tarts as long as he's still scoring. Goals, that is. When he didn't, his problems began to mount.

Rooney has been a brilliant footballer for United, but Ferguson is one to look at the future and not the past.

It all seems harsh and very, very swift, but that's Ferguson's style. No player is too big to be moved on and Ferguson has moved on the biggest. The only player he didn't want to lose was Cristiano Ronaldo. David Beckham, Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, Paul Ince and Ruud van Nistelrooy all went because Fergie decided so. They all took two or three years before they forgave their former manager.

Two those players went to Madrid, and Real would be one of the few options open to Rooney should he, as expected, leave Old Trafford.

Barcelona, Internazionale and Manchester City would be the only other teams who would pay the £150,000 weekly wage that his agent would be looking for.

With Rooney's stock battered by his poor form and off-the-field indiscretions, negotiating such a deal for Rooney would be harder than a year ago - no matter how weak the pound is against the Euro.

A Spanish journalist put the Rooney question to Madrid's sporting director Jorge Valdano, who replied that Madrid already have "two wonderful players (Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain) up front and they showed last season that they are able to score 60 goals."

He also mentioned Angel di Maria and Mesut Ozil, while stating that Karim Benzema "had a lot to prove."

Still, Madrid would be the most likely destination should he move abroad. Even with the Fergie Mk II that is Jose Mourinho, the club are obsessed by image and marketing. Rooney is by a distance the biggest seller of merchandise at Old Trafford and Florentino Perez would love to translate that to the Bernabeu as he did with Beckham.

But would it work? If Rooney does move to Spain, then he needs to be more like Steve McManaman, Gary Lineker and Jonathan Woodgate when it comes to learning Spanish rather than Mark Hughes, Ian Harte and Michael Owen.

The former group learned Spanish, the latter didn't get beyond the ‘dos cervezas' stage. They didn't last long, while the lads who did learn Spanish loved their time in Spain, even though injury curtailed Woodgate's appearances.

I've interviewed Rooney a few times in Barcelona. He's likeable and matures with every interview, but didn't marvel at the city or club like other British players. There was one occasion when I saw him meet Ronaldinho for the first time. The Brazilian is trilingual, but doesn't speak English. He tried.

"Hola, hello. Do you speak Spanish?" he asked falteringly, nodding and smiling.

"Er, no mate," laughs Rooney, shaking his head. Studying Castilian verb tables isn't a priority for the youth of Croxteth.

Source: Yahoo/Eurosport



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Five reasons why you should watch La Liga this season
28 August 2010

1. The most entertaining league on the planet
Granted, the Spanish Primera Division suffers from a number of innate flaws — like referees blowing whistles on the slightest of challenges and defenders happier to rove into opposition penalty boxes than secure their own area. But just like one or two flaws in a genius doesn't make him any less gifted, La Liga's poetic and romantic valour cannot - or at least, should not - be put into doubt because of its defects.

It is not perfect but it is more perfect than others.

Teams have a distinctly attacking style of football that relies on passing the ball around and remaining coherent. Spanish champions Barcelona are the masters of this art but theirs is an advanced form that clubs lower down the order follow in one way or the other. There are, of course, one or two 'physical' sides like Athletic Bilbao but modest teams like Real Mallorca, Getafe, Deportivo La Coruna all adopt a free-flowing attacking brand of football.

Atletico Madrid, who won the Europa League last season in sensational fashion by knocking out Premier League giants Liverpool on their way, are arguably the most unpredictable side in Europe; their ability to lose 3-0 to Espanyol just a week after defeating Deportivo by the same scoreline is just an example. Expect more from Atleti this season, too, and expect the rest of La Liga doing something equally ludicrous.

2. Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola


Pep Guardiola won the treble with Barcelona in 2008-09, Jose Mourinho won the treble with Inter in 2009-10 and now both will go head-to-head in Spain. While Mourinho is regarded by many as the best coach in the world as his ability to bring the best out of his players and make them great is unparalleled, Guardiola is only in his third year of senior football management and he has already etched his name in history.

The battle of wits between the two finest coaches will be a marvel to watch. Also remember, Jose Mourinho is renowned for his brilliant and juicy quotes - an extra reason to stay tuned to La Liga this season.

Statements like these are sure to make the Barca-Madrid rivalry even more entertaining: “We are not shopping in a supermarket for groceries like Barcelona. I only want players who are great players or players I can make great."

3. Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo
The Argentine won the Ballon d'Or last year while CR7 won it in 2008. While Lionel Messi is widely recognised as the most talented and finest player on the planet at the moment, Cristiano Ronaldo is said to come close. Both are different type of players and neither of them is exactly perfect or complete (not that there can be a footballer who is 100 per cent complete) but since the advent of Ronaldo in La Liga, the rivalry has taken a more regular tone.

Messi overshadowed Cristiano in 2009-10 but yet the Portuguese was arguably the second best attacking player in Spain last campaign. This season, too, one can expect the duo to go head-to-head.

4. Unpredictability outside the title race
You don't need to be exceptionally intellectual to realise that once again it will be either Real Madrid or Barcelona who will win the league, even though the likes of Valencia, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid continue to claim that they can challenge the Big Two in Spain. However, outside the title race, we have competition for each and every other place.

Two of the four remaining Champions League places will be fought over by four clubs - Atletico, Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal - but with Valencia suffering from squad depletion it could become even more competitive.

Real Mallorca almost finished fourth last campaign but with gripping financial problems, could struggle while Getafe, having lost Pedro Leon and Roberto Soldado in the summer to bigger clubs, will find it hard to finish in the top six again. Deportivo La Coruna and Athletic Bilbao will look at finishing in a Europa League place.

Last season just eight points separated 11th placed Espanyol from 18th placed Real Valladolid and a host of clubs will go into the new season with survival on their mind. Going into the penultimate weekend in 2009-10 in La Liga, nothing was decided except the fact that Valencia would finish third. This time it promises to be as spooky and enthralling.

5. Resurrection of Real Sociedad

The Basque giants suffered the ignominy of relegation at the end of the 2006-07 campaign when they finished 19th in the top flight. But after two years in what former and late Atletico Madrid president Jesus Gil once described as "hell" - the Spanish Segunda Division - La Real are back. One of the most important and historic clubs in Spain, Sociedad finished top of the second division in Spain last season.

La Liga missed (and needed) the two-time Spanish champions and Real's return means we will two of the most historically rich and symbolic games in Europe - the Basque derby against Athletic Bilbao and the clash with eternal adversaries Real Madrid, considered by some to be even fiercer than the much publicised clash between Madrid and Barcelona.

Source: Goal.com



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Barcelona 'Regret' Cesc Fabregas’ Decision To Stay At Arsenal
08 August 2010

Barca wish the outcome could have been different, but their price was no more than €40 million...

Barcelona have moved to officially declare their disappointment with the news that Cesc Fabregas will stay at Arsenal for the time being.

The Blaugrana had been incessantly chasing the Gunner over the course of the summer, with the story resembling a soap opera as the ‘will-he-won’t-he’ plot continued from a similar saga last summer. Fabregas moved to finally end speculation earlier on Friday, when an official statement was issued indicating that he will not be drawn away from the Emirates this summer.

Reciprocating, Barcelona made a press release of their own.

“In the light of the statement released today regarding the contractual future of Cesc Fabregas, FC Barcelona regrets the decision of Arsenal FC to declare the player not for sale and their decision not to take into consideration the offers proposed. None of those offers, in any way, exceeded €40 million.”

Though the case would appear to be over, it would be little surprise to see newspaper speculation regarding Cesc’s future crop up before the end of August.

Source: Goal.com



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Paul the octopus set for sensational transfer to Madrid aquarium
15 July 2010

Spanish zoo prepared to meet 'any demands' to sign German cephalopod that predicted team's World Cup final victory

In what may prove to be the biggest transfer story this summer, negotiations have begun to bring Paul the psychic octopus to Madrid after he correctly predicted Spain's World Cup final victory.

Madrid's Zoo Aquarium says it is prepared to trump any other offer Germany's Oberhausen Sea Life Centre receives for Paul, certain that the world's most famous cephalopod will attract thousands of visitors.

At present no cash is on the table, and the zoo says it is trying to negotiate an exchange of animals.

Sounding more like the president of Real Madrid than a zookeeper, a spokesman said he was confident that Paul would be in Madrid within a few days. Madrid was prepared to offer Oberhausen "whatever they demand" to complete the deal — suggesting that this will be a cash-plus-animal transfer.

He added that Paul, named after a German children's book by Boy Lornsen, would be treated "with tender loving care" because of its national treasure status in Spain.

Paul correctly predicted the outcome of all seven of Germany's World Cup matches, as well as the final between Spain and Holland. This was an improvement on its record for the 2008 Eurocopa, in which it was predicted four out of six of Germany's games.

During the World Cup, Paul became a media phenomenon, with his final predictions screened live on television. He also became the world's third most popular Twitter trend during the competition, out-doing both Shakira and Cristiano Ronaldo with 141 hours of trending.

A Brazilian company has developed an iPhone app based on Paul's performance, allowing users to consult the octopus to help them make decisions. The Ask the Octopus app, which costs 99c (65p), lets users ask 50-50 questions, to which a cartoon of Paul chooses an answer.

Source: The Guardian



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Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas defends Barcelona shirt stunt
14 July 2010

Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has played down being pictured in a Barcelona shirt during Spain's World Cup-winning celebrations.

Fabregas has been linked with a move to the Nou Camp and was forced into the shirt by Spain team-mates and Barcelona players Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol.

Barcelona have had a bid of about £30m for the midfielder turned down.

"There are times we do not even know what we do, so everything can be forgiven," said 23-year-old Fabregas.

"These are things that happen at special moments. I don't think it should be gone on about much more because it was just another anecdote of a great night, a great celebration.

"Pepe [Reina] took me there [to the front of the stage], the truth is that I didn't know anything like that was going to happen and so I was a bit surprised.

"At first I thought it was a flag or something, but it's nothing.

"You had to enjoy it and if it's a way to have fun, it's nothing."

Fabregas signed an eight-year contract with Arsenal in 2006 but is believed to be in favour of a move back to Barcelona.

He came through the Catalan outfit's ranks and spent six years at the Nou Camp as a youth team player before making the switch to the Gunners in 2003.

There has been plenty of speculation about where he will be plying his trade next season, although he attempted to quell the talk over his future.

"I think now the less said about the subject the better, because these things are worse for everyone when they come to light and people talk more about the matter," he added.

"Right now we have to be very calm and what will be will be."

Fabregas impressed after coming on as a substitute in the World Cup final and set up 26-year-old Andres Iniesta to score the winner in the 1-0 victory over Netherlands.

Asked about the prospect of being joined at club level by Fabregas, Barcelona playmaker Iniesta said: "Let's hope so.

"Everybody has come out and spoken of the desire we have for him to be with us next season.

"We would be delighted. Not just because he is a team-mate and a friend, but because it would be great for the club.

"His arrival would give us a huge jump up in quality and he would play his part to help us stay up there competing in the big competitions. We would love him to be here."

Source: BBC Sport



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Photo of Fabregas in a Barcelona shirt
13 July 2010

Cesc Fabregas was pictured wearing a Barcelona shirt during Spain's post world Cup celebrations.  He doesn't look too keen to be wearing it to be honest.  Can you imagine Wenger's face after seeing this?!



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Sealed with a kiss: Spain captain embraces TV reporter girlfriend live on air after World Cup win
12 July 2010

What a difference a World Cup win makes.

At the beginning of the South Africa 2010 tournament – after Spain’s shock defeat by Switzerland – the Spanish captain Iker Casillas was berated by his TV reporter girlfriend Sara Carbonero.

But six games later, after lifting the trophy and being asked about the triumph, all was forgiven as the goalkeeper kissed and made up on live TV.

The passionate embrace came after the World Cup winner broke down in tears and Miss Carbonero, 25, offered him time to compose himself.

Taking her by surprise, he grabbed the glamorous sports presenter – voted the sexiest in the world - as he said: ‘No, this is what I want to do.’

Casillas, 29, was named man-of-the-match after making two outstanding saves to keep his country's tournament dreams alive against Holland.

Andres Iniesta's extra-time winner then broke Dutch hearts as Vicente Del Bosque's team clinched the title following a tense and scrappy match.

Spain scored four minutes before penalties would have been required to decide the winner.

Tears filled the captain’s eyes as the final whistle was blown – and, as Spain’s road to victory was anything but easy, this could probably be expected.

In their first game against Switzerland, they lost 1-0 and as sudden doubts emerged over the Spaniards’ chances, Miss Carbonero left her boyfriend squirming in an interview as she asked him: ‘How could you muck this up?’

The Real Madrid star responded: 'I don't know what to say,' he said, unable to look her in the eye. 'I don't know if this defeat will have consequences. The dressing room is fed up.'

He then slunk off feeling somewhat abashed.

But last night the tables were finally turned as Miss Carbonero, a reporter for Spanish TV station Telecinco, was the one looking embarrassed.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1294007/Sealed-kiss-Spain-captain-embraces-reporter-girlfriend-live-TV-World-Cup-victory.html?ITO=1708&referrer=yahoo#ixzz0tT50OHdH


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World Cup 2010 - Howard Webb: Hero or villain?
12 July 2010

English referee Howard Webb's record-breaking 15-card performance in the World Cup final provoked a storm of criticism.

Webb set a record by showing 14 yellow cards and a red in Spain's bad-tempered 1-0 win against the Netherlands.

The Rotherham official came under fire from both sides. Spanish pundits were outraged by his failure to send off a Dutchman before the 117th minute, with sports daily Marca calling him "abysmal".

Meanwhile, Holland were furious about two key decisions just before the winning goal. Dirk Kuyt stormed: "I know you cannot blame others, but the referee favoured Spain. We had many more yellow cards than we deserved. That ultimately cost us the cup."

Webb was roundly booed as he and his assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey received their medals after the game.

The British press were kinder, with The Sun claiming: "Webb kept his head while players lost theirs."

Is the criticism justified, or did the players give him an impossible job?

Here is a look at all the big decisions

15' Robin van Persie booked for a heavy challenge on Joan Capdevila. Good decision

16' Carles Puyol booked for a tackle from behind on Arjen Robben. Good decision

22' Mark van Bommel booked for a bad tackle from behind on Andres Iniesta. Borderline red, should at least have been a final warning. Should then have gone for persistent fouling, and kicking the ball into a prone Xavi.

23' Sergio Ramos booked for a tit-for-tat trip on Dirk Kuyt. Good decision.

28' Nigel De Jong booked for planting his studs into Xabi Alonso's chest. Bad decision. A clear red card for an appalling challenge.

42' Wesley Sneijder not booked for planting his studs in Sergio Busquets's thigh.

54' Giovanni van Bronckhorst booked for a block on Sergio Ramos. Tame by this game's standards, but probably correct.

56' Johnny Heitinga booked for a strong challenge on David Villa. Good decision.

67' Joan Capdevila booked for a cynical foul on the marauding Robin van Persie. Good decision.

84' Arjen Robben booked for mouthing off to the referee. We don't know what Robben said, but he protested furiously.

92' Spain penalty appeal for an alleged foul by Joris Mathijsen on Xavi. Replays showed Xavi kicked Mathijsen and Webb got it right.

109' Johnny Heitinga second yellow card for pulling back Iniesta. Good decision, even though Iniesta made the most of it.

112' Gregory van der Wiel booked for a trip on Iniesta. Borderline, fairly tame.

114' Arjen Robben not shown a second yellow card for kicking the ball away after being correctly flagged offside.

115' Spanish goal-kick after Arjen Robben's free-kick takes a big deflection off the wall, and Iker Casillas also gets a touch. Terrible decision, how did referee and linesman both miss that?

116' Furious Dutch claims of a foul on Eljero Elia in the build-up to Iniesta's goal. Good decision by Webb, the substitute went down much too easily.

116' Half-hearted appeals for offside against both Cesc Fabregas and Iniesta for the goal. Both good decisions.

117' Andres Iniesta booked for removing his shirt after scoring. Good decision - the rules are the rules. But sad that Iniesta's tribute to Espanyol captain Dani Jarque, who died last year, earned the same punishment as De Jong's assault.

117' Joris Mathijsen booked for protesting Iniesta's goal by slamming the ball into the ground. Good decision

120' Xavi booked for kicking the ball away. Good decision.

Webb and his assistants did get most of the big decisions right, but that does not mean the referee had a good night. He failed to take firm control of the game, something at which he usually excels. His determination to keep 22 players on the pitch was clear early on, and both sides – particularly the Dutch - exploited that.

Perversely, Webb's lenient approach led to more cards than if he had made it clear he would not stand for any nonsense. Nobody likes to see a red card early in a big game, but if De Jong or Van Bommel had gone, you would need a particularly perverse mindset to blame the referee and not the players.

Source: Yahoo/Eurosport



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